Etihad Airways to offer flight bookings through Astra Tech's Botim app

Bookings will use the Botim GPT module, which incorporates flights and other travel-related services

Antonoaldo Neves, chief executive of Etihad Airways, left, and Abdallah Abu Sheikh, founder of Astra Tech, during the signing ceremony at the Arabian Travel Market. Photo: Etihad
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Etihad Airways and Astra Tech, the Dubai-based investment company backed by Abu Dhabi's artificial intelligence company G42, have teamed up to offer flights through the Botim app.

Bookings will use the Botim GPT module developed by Astra Tech, which incorporates flights and other travel related services on the app, the companies said at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai on Wednesday.

GPT — generative pre-trained transformer — is the underlying technology behind generative AI and created by Microsoft-backed OpenAI, which developed the highly popular ChatGPT.

The agreement between the two companies was signed at the ATM by Antonoaldo Neves, chief executive of Etihad Airways, and Abdallah Abu Sheikh, founder of Astra Tech.

“Etihad is committed to staying at the forefront of the constantly evolving digital landscape by exploring and adopting innovative solutions, such as GPT-enabled flight bookings, to deliver the best possible experiences to its guests,” Mr Neves said.

Companies are beginning to leverage the potential of GPT technology, which is powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, to provide services that are simpler and more seamless.

Its use holds major potential for improving development, productivity and driving a transformative shift in strategic sectors, Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Digital Economy, AI and Remote Working System, said last week.

The Etihad-Astra Tech partnership will let users book flights by “making it as easy as asking a question”, said Mr Abu Sheikh, who is also the chief executive of Botim.

“This represents our ability to connect people, not only virtually but physically, all around the world using the latest technology in artificial intelligence,” he said.

Astra Tech acquired Botim — originally launched as a voice over internet protocol service — in January. It was this week relaunched as an “ultra app”, which the company said was the first in the Arab world.

The new version, Botim 3.0, makes the app an all-inclusive digital platform for its users by combining FinTech, e-commerce, GPT and communications into a single user experience.

Ultra apps aim to allow sellers and consumers around the world to interact on a single platform, eliminating the complexity of using several apps.

The acquisition gave Astra Tech access to Botim's 90 million registered users, of which 25 million are active, Astra Tech said.

In March, Astra Tech, which secured $500 million in a funding round led by G42 in December, teamed up with global payments company Mastercard to boost its digital payments services in the Mena region through its Botim and PayBy apps.

Updated: May 03, 2023, 2:27 PM